Streaky Paint Pens

How To Fix Streaky Paint Pens

So…. Say you just finished up a sign for someone’s wedding. You used a paint pen and you’re really excited about it. Except…. When you look closely at it, it’s suuuuper streaky.

And no matter what you do to try to fix it, it just keeps getting worse. 

No need to panic. 

I’ve been in that position a million times. And if you’ve been in this situation before, you KNOW that it’s impossible to fix it. Every time you try to go back over your lettering for a second coat with your paint pen, the existing paint just chips off…. And it ends up looking worse. 

I have a fix for you though! 

First Things First…

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

Supplies Used/Mentioned

Rather watch than read? No problem! You can watch me fix streaky paint pens in real-time by clicking the video below!

Let’s Get Started!

Before we get started, I do have a couple disclaimers for you.

Disclaimer #1: Some sacrifice is required. 

You have to sacrifice your paint pen. 

Disclaimer #2: It’s just a little messy. 

Yep. It’s probably going to make a mess.

As long as you’re okay with both of those things, I can teach you how to fix your streaky sign. 

The Supplies

Here’s my example for you. I used a Sharpie Water-Based Paint Pen on this. From far away, it looks pretty good. But when you look at it up close, it looks really streaky. 

Honestly, you could probably get away with it. Realistically, clients know these are handmade and don’t expect perfection. Buuuuut when it’s for a client, you really do want it to look its best and not be super streaky. 

This technique works on whatever surface you’re using – glass, mirror, wood, acrylic, etc.

Grab an X-acto knife…

And your paint pen. 

A paintbrush (I’m using a small one here, but use whatever supplies make sense for your project)… If you have really big writing, a big brush makes sense. For my project, this paintbrush is an appropriate size. 

A palette or something else you can spill paint on. 

I will also say… you’ll probably want some paper towels too. 

The Paint Pen Sacrifice

Like I said in my first disclaimer, you’re going to have to sacrifice your paint pen for this. It’s for the good of the signage, I promise!

You’ve likely guessed what’s coming by now – you’re going to cut open your paint pen. You might have to saw it a bit. It can honestly be a little dangerous, so be super careful and make sure you have a good X-acto knife. 

Don’t try this at home, kids! 

You don’t have to cut the end of the pen off completely. You just need a decent slit, and then you can pry the cut pen open a bit and leak some of the paint out onto your palette.

This isn’t usually super messy unless you cut the entire tip of the pen off and leak all of the paint out everywhere. Don’t do that. 😉 

You just need some of the paint on your palette to work with. 

The Fix

Grab your palette, your paintbrush, and your sign. 

You’re just going to go over your lettering with the paintbrush and paint. 

Using a paintbrush with paint on it works much better than using the paint pen itself for a second coat. Using a paintbrush is a bit more delicate than a paint pen, so really take your time with this. Make sure your paintbrush is well-saturated with paint for each stroke. You don’t want the paintbrush to get super dry. 

Just work your way through your entire sign and touch up every single park of your lettering. 

Viola! No more streaks!

Something to keep in mind here – the paint is a lot thicker using this method than when you’re using a paint pen normally. It’ll take longer to dry. So just be super mindful of that. 

The Frequently Asked Questions

I expect a couple of questions, so I’ll address them proactively. 

Couldn’t you just use a paintbrush in the first place? Wouldn’t that just be a lot easier?

Well, maybe. But usually people are looking around for a solution because they’ve already done their project using a paint pen and need a fix for the streakiness. This is for them. 

Aaaaaand doing brush calligraphy with a paint pen is a lot harder than doing faux calligraphy with a paint pen. If you’re super comfortable doing brush calligraphy with a paint brush, go for it! You can absolutely do that first from the get go and cut out the paint pen lettering altogether. 

The other question I get a lot about this method… 

Can’t I just use some spare paint I have laying around instead of having to cut open my paint pen and wasting it?

You could try. But every time I’ve tried that, the paint just doesn’t match perfectly. Plus, adding a second type of paint usually makes the sign look even streakier and chunkier. The consistencies are different, the colours are different, etc. Making it look streakier is the complete opposite of what we’re trying to do here.  

Paint pens are usually about $5. So if you’re doing a bit project for a client, the material cost is usually totally fine. 

Ultimately, I just haven’t found a solution that reliably works better than this method. Specifically using the exact same paint pen overtop of existing paint pen lettering. 

And That’s A Wrap!

I hope this was helpful! I would LOVE to know if this post helps you on a client project. 

If signage is your jam, you should definitely check out my signage course:

For now, here’s another signage related post I think you’re gonna like!

And finally, your dad joke…

I have a tendency to run around naked.
…So every morning I spray myself with Windex to keep me from streaking.

Tell me what you thought!